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Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

An Investigation of the Link Between Macroscopic Traffic Flow Characteristics and Individual Vehicle Fuel Consumption


Principal investigators:

Project status

In progress

Start date: 03/16/15
End date: 09/30/17



About the research


Ambient temperature, congestion, traffic signal progression, and driving style affect vehicle emissions and fuel economy. The objective of this project is to study the impact of traffic and environmental conditions on the emissions and fuel consumption of individual vehicles.

A fleet of university rental vehicles, with a variety of vehicle sizes, models, and years, will be monitored over a one-year period. Vehicle speed, location, ambient temperature, emissions, and fuel consumption will be recorded using an on-board diagnostics II (OBD-II) logger. The data collected from the vehicles’ controller area network (CAN) bus will be linked with the macroscopic traffic measurements, such as flow rate, fleet mix, space, mean speed and its variations, and travel time. The influence of traffic stream characteristics, signal coordination, and ambient temperature on vehicle fuel consumption will be analyzed.

The heterogeneity in driving style and its impact on emissions and fuel consumption can also be explored using the dataset. Implications on automated eco-driving through connected vehicle technologies will be discussed. The established relationship between macroscopic traffic conditions and fuel consumption can be used to estimate the fuel savings and emissions reduction benefits when evaluating the effectiveness of various traffic control strategies.